How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Alice H Your Own Question
Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
30932268
Type Your Law Question Here...
Alice H is online now

I have received a Capital Contribution Order in respect of

Customer Question

I have received a Capital Contribution Order in respect of Legal Aid Agency (LAA) costs for an amount which includes ALL of my Wife's assets, including her 50% of the equity in our marital home. Over eight years ago, we made a declaration that the equity in our home should be treated as a "tenants in common" agreement between ourselves and I am arguing with the LAA that I therefore do not have access to my Wife's half share of the equity in the house. It seems grossly unfair to me, and other commentators on this issue, that I have been assessed on the whole amount of the equity, rather than just my half, especially when my Wife has contributed to the running costs throughout our 20 year occupation of the premises. I have also been assessed on ALL of her life savings, again savings she invested from her own earnings and not in any way been transferred to her by me.
I am aware that the Order automatically includes me being assessed to include my Wife's assets.
I consider this whole situation to be completely unfair. We are now in a position of my Wife effectively been blackmailed to give me her assets so that I can pay my debt. This is surely not what the legislation intended. I wholly accept that I should be assessed on MY assets, but wholly do not accept how I am being pursued for assets rightly owned by my Wife. This must in some way constitute a breach of my basic human right to be treated fairly. Can I contend that the Order is unfair, perhaps descriminatory in any way? I have not been able to find an adequately experienced solicitor to assist me in this aspect.
I have been in contact with my local MP, but clearly she has other priorities at this moment.
Thank you for your time.
Steve Bache
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help with your question today.
Was this made following a Crown Court trial?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

For Alice H,

Yes. I was convicted by Birmingham Crown Court for tax evasion and sentenced in September, 2013 to 42 months in prison. The case was a VHCC case and my legal costs came to just over £0.75m. My assessment amounts to less than this, but includes all of the assets of both my Wife and me.

Incidentally, I have lodged my own appeal to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) as I was not guilty of the alleged offences. I have been told a case manager will not be able to review my appeal documentation before May, 2017, long after the resolution of the CCO issue. To have to settle this debt by having to sell our home under these circumstances is unacceptable, and a matter that connot be reversed if true justice prevails.
Thank you

Steve

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
OK. I'll assume this was a Crown Court order.
The Criminal Legal Aid (Contribution Order) Regulations doe say that a partners resources are taken into account when assessing legal aid contributions.
[regulation 4.—(1) Where an individual has a partner—
(a)in calculating the financial resources of the individual, the Director must treat the financial resources of the partner as the individual’s financial resources; and
(b)any reference in these Regulations to the financial resources, financial circumstances, income or capital of the individual includes a reference to the financial resources, financial circumstances, income or capital of the individual’s partner...]
So as a matter of law your wife's resources can be taken into account when assessing the contribution unfortunately.
But you do have a right of appeal against the decision to the Director of the Legal Aid Agency. Under Reg 28 the Director can exclude certain capital from the contribution calculation on the grounds that it would be "unreasonable" to take that resource into account.
If you have made your case to Rossendales but they have rejected your representations then you should appeal to the Director of the LAA.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

For Alice H,

Thank you for your advice. This is how I read the regulations. Is there any case law regarding this matter?

I think the whole issue is iniquitous.

I do not want to declare bankruptcy, but will if I have to. This would really be a drastic step to take, but in my opinion the whole issue is wrong. When you said "unfortunately", this now seems an understatement.

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Yes there is case law on the subject but it will take me some time to dig this out for you. Are you willing to pay for additional services?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

For Alice H,

Yes I would. However, can you please give me an estimate of additional costs before proceeding?

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Of course. I have done that now.
Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. I will get working on this and update you. Are you content for me to respond within 24 hours so I can complete the research fully?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes that's fine.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Steve Bache

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks. I have noted your number and email also.
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Good evening
I have spent the best part of today trawling through some cases but none of them deal with this issue. It would appear that nobody has, since the inception of capital contribution orders, challenged the decision in the High Court. The issue of what constitutes "unreasonable" in the assessment under the Regulations hasn't thefefore been considered. But having looked at the regulations in more detail throughout the day I have identified some statutory grounds which may assist you. To help please let me know the date of the contribution order.
Alice
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

For Alice H,

Hi.

The Order was issued on 18th June, 2014. I have lodged my intention to appeal within the 28 day period allowed. I am to attend a final hearing on my POCA on 11th May, 2015 which should reduce my available assets and therefore Order. The Judge will ultimately decide how much I have to pay. My "benefit" will be anything between zero and £17k, and costs of £17.6k may or may not be awarded. The Order is for much more than this, so my actions will be relevant.

Thanks again.

Steve

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
No problem. I will come back to you again later today.
Do you have representation for the POCA hearing?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes I do, thank you.

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Good evening. By way of an update I am still completing this for you and will post an answer soon. I hope that's okay with you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

okay, thank you.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi,

Do you have an update?

Thank you

Steve

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

FOR ALICE H

In your reply dated 27th April, you stated that you had "identified some statutory grounds which may assist" me regarding the "unreasonable"(ness) of the CCO against me. Are you in a position to send me this now?

I had the worst possible ruling against me yrsterday. The Judge ruled that my POCA amount was "18,222 and he awarded costs of £17470, so I have to pay both amounts. I think this amount reduces the amount I have available for the CCO, do you agree?

I hope to hear from you later today, please.

Thanks Steve Bache

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

FOR ALICE H.

I sent you emails on 5th & 12th May requesting an update and further information on my case. I am dissappointed not to have received anything further. Please provide me with the details requested as a matter of urgency.

Steve Bache

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Good evening
I am very sorry for the delay. The difficulty has been that there has been very little by way of challenge to CCO's since their inception. But the Judge having made the POCA order does mean there is less availabe to you to satisfy the CCO and you can apply to have that decison reviewed. If you or your solicitor haven't yet done so then it would in your interests now that the POCA proceedings have completed to ask for a review from the LAA.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

FOR ALICE H,

Thank you for your reply,however, it does not answer the question. In your note on 27th April you said you had identified some statutory grounds which may assist me. What are these statutory grounds and what do you consider "unreasonable"in this aspect? A more direct answer would be appreciated.

Steve